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This was our 8th NCL cruise, but first time staying in The Haven. We choseThe Haven to celebrate my husband's 50th birthday. Usually we stay in a balcony, so this was a splurge for us. Unfortunately we are now spoiled! The Haven is worth every extra penny that it costs. Just to list a few perks of The Haven: - At embarkation, our concierge was waiting in a special lounge to escort us on to the ship. We were among the first to get on the ship. We were offered burger sliders for lunch as well as a special lunch in La Cucina. - Our butler brought snacks every afternoon: a plate of cookies for my son, finger sandwiches for me and something sweet for my husband. - The pool in The Haven can get a little loud and the hot tubs can be taken over by children. However, there is an adults only sun deck with a Jacuzzi that was absolutely perfect. An attendant regularly brought drinks and checked to see if there was anything we needed. We were going to buy Vibe passes, but are so glad we didn't. It would have been a waste as everything we needed was in The Haven. - THERE WAS ABSOLUTELY NO CHAIR HOGGING. My husband can't stand this and it's one of the main reasons we chose The Haven. The Haven was completely sold out for our sailing, so there were a lot of people. But always plenty of space wherever you wanted to sit. - The bartender in The Haven was phenomenal! He could make anything!! And he really tried to understand your tastes and mood, so he could make the perfect cocktail just for you. He was always very accommodating and patient with all the children wanting specialty drinks. He was a saint! - There was reserved seating in the theater for The Haven. My son showed up 5 minutes before The Choir of Man and was seated right away. - Unlimited free Pay Per View Movies in the room - You have a walky-talky phone that you can take with you anywhere on the ship, and anyone can just call your room to reach you. In hindsight, we probably didn't need the communication package because of this. - Disembarkation took less than 5 minutes. We were escorted by our concierge to a crew elevator from The Haven lounge that went directly to the gangway. Our concierge held the line so that we could walk directly off the ship. I could go on and on about The Haven. NCL works really hard to make this a special experience. I know everyone can't afford to stay there (I know we can't for every cruise!), but hopefully this gives some insight if you're considering The Haven. Now I want to give some opinions about the other parts of the ship. As I mentioned this was our 8th cruise with NCL. I have also sailed with Carnival twice. IMHO Carnival has a better kids program. My son is 12. On NCL, he is grouped with 10-12. He absolutely refused to go to the kids club based on these ages. Why would a middle schooler want to be with elementary aged children? NCL then groups 13-17 together. Again IMHO, 13 is way to young to be hanging around with a 17 year old. On Carnival, the age groupings are much more appropriate. They group 12-14 and then 15-17. These ages can come and go from the program as they please on Carnival. On NCL, a 12 year old can leave on their own only after staying 2 hours. My son has still stayed in contact with friends that he met on the Carnival ships in their youth programs from over a year ago. This is a big miss on NCL's part and they really should reconsider their age groupings. Another issue is the specialty dining. Because NCL is now offering so many dining packages, these specialty restaurants aren't really that special anymore. They were loud and crowded and service was about the same as the main dining room. In Moderno, we actually left before the end of our meal because of a loud large party with young children literally running around the dining room. This didn't use to be the case years ago in these specialty restaurants. They used to be special, quiet places to go and have an intimate evening. I think the maître d' could do a better job of managing the restaurant in these cases. We did one excursion through NCL to the Orlando Eye and wax museum. Generally, excursions through the boat are crowded and overpriced. I can honestly say that I have never had an excellent shore excursion experience booked through the ship. You're better off doing your research on Trip Advisor and finding something perfect for you. That being said, sometimes the logistics require you to book through the ship (Port Canaveral / Orlando is one example). Special Tips: - Don't miss Food Republic, especially if you like sushi. I think this place is underrated because there is an up-charge, but it is excellent. We saw more crew staff eating here than anywhere else on the ship. There's a reason why. - If you don't already know, please book your dining and entertainment reservations before you get on the boat. Again, people complain that everything is booked and unavailable. "Your failure to plan is not my problem." - Consider the port that your boat sails from. I love the sailings from New York because the boat is packed with people from New York. I just love all the bold, lively personalities. I've also done sailings from Miami, for example. The "personality" of the boat is very different. Same for New Orleans and LA. I love NCL and will stick with this line. There are so many special touches that people don't notice or appreciate - like the singing muffin ladies in the morning. I love the freestyle cruising to be able to do what I want when I want. I love the different areas of the ship. But these are big ships, they carry a lot of people. Make sure you consider that before you book. One final note: a lot of people complain about the nickel and diming on NCL. I don't agree. When you pay the cruise fare with NCL you get a great value. Do your research - their prices are very comparable, if not better, for what you get. Now this is part of freestyle cruising: when you get on the boat, you can spend as much or as little as you like. You do what you want when you want. People expect to pay a value priced cruise fare and then be given the world in return. Yes - you have to pay to bowl. Yes - you have to pay to paint. But there is plenty of food, on a beautiful ship. There is always live music and something fun (and free) to do. NCL let's you decide how much you want to pay and what you want to do, and when you want to do it. As with most things in life, you get what you pay for. THANK YOU NCL and all of your FABULOUS CREW MEMBERS for making our family vacation truly exceptional!!!

Best NCL Cruise Yet (The Haven)

Norwegian Escape Cruise Review by Valerocl

1 person found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: March 2019
  • Destination: Bahamas
  • Cabin Type: The Haven Courtyard Penthouse with Balcony
This was our 8th NCL cruise, but first time staying in The Haven. We choseThe Haven to celebrate my husband's 50th birthday. Usually we stay in a balcony, so this was a splurge for us. Unfortunately we are now spoiled! The Haven is worth every extra penny that it costs. Just to list a few perks of The Haven:

- At embarkation, our concierge was waiting in a special lounge to escort us on to the ship. We were among the first to get on the ship. We were offered burger sliders for lunch as well as a special lunch in La Cucina.

- Our butler brought snacks every afternoon: a plate of cookies for my son, finger sandwiches for me and something sweet for my husband.

- The pool in The Haven can get a little loud and the hot tubs can be taken over by children. However, there is an adults only sun deck with a Jacuzzi that was absolutely perfect. An attendant regularly brought drinks and checked to see if there was anything we needed. We were going to buy Vibe passes, but are so glad we didn't. It would have been a waste as everything we needed was in The Haven.

- THERE WAS ABSOLUTELY NO CHAIR HOGGING. My husband can't stand this and it's one of the main reasons we chose The Haven. The Haven was completely sold out for our sailing, so there were a lot of people. But always plenty of space wherever you wanted to sit.

- The bartender in The Haven was phenomenal! He could make anything!! And he really tried to understand your tastes and mood, so he could make the perfect cocktail just for you. He was always very accommodating and patient with all the children wanting specialty drinks. He was a saint!

- There was reserved seating in the theater for The Haven. My son showed up 5 minutes before The Choir of Man and was seated right away.

- Unlimited free Pay Per View Movies in the room

- You have a walky-talky phone that you can take with you anywhere on the ship, and anyone can just call your room to reach you. In hindsight, we probably didn't need the communication package because of this.

- Disembarkation took less than 5 minutes. We were escorted by our concierge to a crew elevator from The Haven lounge that went directly to the gangway. Our concierge held the line so that we could walk directly off the ship.

I could go on and on about The Haven. NCL works really hard to make this a special experience. I know everyone can't afford to stay there (I know we can't for every cruise!), but hopefully this gives some insight if you're considering The Haven.

Now I want to give some opinions about the other parts of the ship. As I mentioned this was our 8th cruise with NCL. I have also sailed with Carnival twice. IMHO Carnival has a better kids program. My son is 12. On NCL, he is grouped with 10-12. He absolutely refused to go to the kids club based on these ages. Why would a middle schooler want to be with elementary aged children? NCL then groups 13-17 together. Again IMHO, 13 is way to young to be hanging around with a 17 year old. On Carnival, the age groupings are much more appropriate. They group 12-14 and then 15-17. These ages can come and go from the program as they please on Carnival. On NCL, a 12 year old can leave on their own only after staying 2 hours. My son has still stayed in contact with friends that he met on the Carnival ships in their youth programs from over a year ago. This is a big miss on NCL's part and they really should reconsider their age groupings.

Another issue is the specialty dining. Because NCL is now offering so many dining packages, these specialty restaurants aren't really that special anymore. They were loud and crowded and service was about the same as the main dining room. In Moderno, we actually left before the end of our meal because of a loud large party with young children literally running around the dining room. This didn't use to be the case years ago in these specialty restaurants. They used to be special, quiet places to go and have an intimate evening. I think the maître d' could do a better job of managing the restaurant in these cases.

We did one excursion through NCL to the Orlando Eye and wax museum. Generally, excursions through the boat are crowded and overpriced. I can honestly say that I have never had an excellent shore excursion experience booked through the ship. You're better off doing your research on Trip Advisor and finding something perfect for you. That being said, sometimes the logistics require you to book through the ship (Port Canaveral / Orlando is one example).

Special Tips:

- Don't miss Food Republic, especially if you like sushi. I think this place is underrated because there is an up-charge, but it is excellent. We saw more crew staff eating here than anywhere else on the ship. There's a reason why.

- If you don't already know, please book your dining and entertainment reservations before you get on the boat. Again, people complain that everything is booked and unavailable. "Your failure to plan is not my problem."

- Consider the port that your boat sails from. I love the sailings from New York because the boat is packed with people from New York. I just love all the bold, lively personalities. I've also done sailings from Miami, for example. The "personality" of the boat is very different. Same for New Orleans and LA.

I love NCL and will stick with this line. There are so many special touches that people don't notice or appreciate - like the singing muffin ladies in the morning. I love the freestyle cruising to be able to do what I want when I want. I love the different areas of the ship. But these are big ships, they carry a lot of people. Make sure you consider that before you book.

One final note: a lot of people complain about the nickel and diming on NCL. I don't agree. When you pay the cruise fare with NCL you get a great value. Do your research - their prices are very comparable, if not better, for what you get. Now this is part of freestyle cruising: when you get on the boat, you can spend as much or as little as you like. You do what you want when you want. People expect to pay a value priced cruise fare and then be given the world in return. Yes - you have to pay to bowl. Yes - you have to pay to paint. But there is plenty of food, on a beautiful ship. There is always live music and something fun (and free) to do. NCL let's you decide how much you want to pay and what you want to do, and when you want to do it. As with most things in life, you get what you pay for.

THANK YOU NCL and all of your FABULOUS CREW MEMBERS for making our family vacation truly exceptional!!!
Valerocl’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

The Haven Courtyard Penthouse with Balcony
Cabin H5 17122
We were a party of 3 and had plenty of room. My son slept in "the sidecar" of a sofa and the king size bed was huge and comfortable. Plenty of storage with two closets. TV was a large flat screen. The room felt like a large hotel room. Very nice.
Deck 18 Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Nassau
    We took a private excursion we found on Trip Advisor. We had an open air jeep and our guide took us to two really cool beaches: Coral Harbour and Jaws Beach. At Coral Harbour, we were the only people there and the water was as clear as glass. We even saw a star fish! We had a nice picnic lunch at jaws beach.
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  • New York (Manhattan)
    New York is fabulous! We had a chance to finally visit the 9/11 Memorial. Absolutely breath-taking and so well done. A place to truly reflect on these events. We took a tour with Family in New York. I would highly recommend them as they personalize the tour to exactly what you want to see. Our guide met us at our hotel, escorted us throughout the day, and then brought us back to our hotel. All day he shared insights and information with us and even changed plans on a dime when we changed our minds. You get to see the city in different way when you walk and ride the subway - so much fun!
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  • Port Canaveral (Orlando)
    This was just ok. The Orlando Eye really doesn't give you any great views. What made this trip salvageable was the wax museum. That place was a blast - who knew!?! It was fun to put on all of the props and then take pictures with the wax figures. The area around The Eye didn't offer any shopping - a real bummer - but there were a few bars and restaurants. The aquarium was ok. They had a big octopus that was really active and cool to watch
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